I recognize that printing pictures of corpses raises all sorts of problems about taste and titillation and sensationalism; the fact is, however, that people die. Death happens to be one of life's main events. And it is irresponsible and more than that, inaccurate, for newspapers to fail to show it.
We cannot stick our heads in the sand concerning the issue of hunger in America. Even though this subject seldom reaches the front page of our newspapers or is featured on news programs because of its lack of sensationalism, the problem exists in massive proportions and must be defeated.
It is often said that the modern exhibition has ruined painting. It is an unfortunate fact that it does encourage competition, so that, to attract attention to his work, an artist is tempted to descend to sensationalism, whether it is expressed by strong colour, grotesque handling, unusual subject, or sheer size.
Walter J. Phillips
Perhaps MacKinnon should reflect on these suggestions that the censorship issue is not so simple-minded, so transparently gender-against-gender, as she insists. She should stop calling names long enough to ask whether personal sensationalism, hyperbole, and bad arguments are really what the cause of sexual equality now needs.
Rebellion, just to be clear, can mean holding onto some of your own integrity, of not playing into the idea of sensationalism. We all have our moments, and that's your guys' job - to take those moments and make them turgid, gaseous, make them big, and it's bigger than the person is. When you start believing your own press, that's when it gets really sad.
Increasingly, the picture of our society as rendered in our media is illusionary and delusionary: disfigured, unreal, out of touch with reality, disconnected from the true context of our life. It is disfigured by celebrity, by celebrity worship, by gossip, by sensationalism, by denial of our societies
Their constant yelping about a free press means, with a few honorable exceptions, freedom to peddle scandal, crime, sex, sensationalism, hate, innuendo and the political and financial uses of propaganda. A newspaper is a business out to make money through advertising revenue. That is predicated on the circulation and you know what circulation depends on.
You maintain hope for humanity as an infinite skeptic of gossip and slander. In all mankind's desires for entertainment and exaggeration and sensationalism, when it comes to gossip, the individual always sounds worse than he really is. This is why adhering to gossip subtly affects the mental state of the listener - he goes on holding shady opinions regardless of where the realities of their lights and darknesses may stand.
But the answer isn't just to intimidate people into consuming more 'serious' news; it is to push so-called serious outlets into learning to present important information in ways that can properly engage audiences. It is too easy to claim that serious things must be, and can almost afford to be, a bit boring. The challenge is to transcend the current dichotomy between those outlets that offer thoughtful but impotent instruction on the one hand and those that provide sensationalism stripped of responsibility on the other.
Alain de Botton
I used to live in Los Angeles, but I didn't want my kids to grow up in the thick of the obsession with movie-making. There's a lot of sensationalism and superficiality. I wanted to take my kids out of that and raise 'em up elsewhere, and I wanted to stop being preoccupied with whether my star is on the rise or the descent. I can't imagine having a much greater life, and I don't want to be preoccupied with things that don't matter. But of course, ironically, my two oldest daughters have decided that they're going to be actresses.
The curse that came before history has laid on us all a tendency to be weary of wonders. If we saw the sun for the first time it would be the most fearful and beautiful of meteors. Now that we see it for the hundredth time we call it, in the hideous and blasphemous phrase of Wordsworth, "the light of common day." We are inclined to increase our claims. We are inclined to demand six suns, to demand a blue sun, to demand a green sun. Humility is perpetually putting us back in the primal darkness. There all light is lightning, startling and instantaneous. Until we understand that original dark, in which we have neither sight nor expectation, we can give no hearty and childlike praise to the splendid sensationalism of things.
The foreign correspondent is frequently the only means of getting an important story told, or of drawing the world's attention to disasters in the making or being covered up. Such an important role is risky in more ways than one. It can expose the correspondent to actual physical danger; but there is also the moral danger of indulging in sensationalism and dehumanizing the sufferer. This danger immediately raises the question of the character and attitude of the correspondent, because the same qualities of mind which in the past separated a Conrad from a Livingstone, or a Gainsborough from the anonymous painter of Francis Williams, are still present and active in the world today. Perhaps this difference can best be put in one phrase: the presence or absence of respect for the human person.
Of real sensational journalism, as it exists in France, in Ireland, and in America, we have no trace in this country. When a journalist in Ireland wishes to create a thrill, he creates a thrill worth talking about. He denounces a leading Irish member for corruption, or he charges the whole police system with a wicked and definite conspiracy. When a French journalist desires a frisson there is a frisson; he discovers, let us say, that the President of the Republic has murdered three wives. Our yellow journalists invent quite as unscrupulously as this; their moral condition is, as regards careful veracity, about the same. But it is their mental calibre which happens to be such that they can only invent calm and even reassuring things. The fictitious version of the massacre of the envoys of Pekin was mendacious, but it was not interesting, except to those who had private reasons for terror or sorrow. It was not connected with any bold and suggestive view of the Chinese situation. It revealed only a vague idea that nothing could be impressive except a great deal of blood. Real sensationalism, of which I happen to be very fond, may be either moral or immoral. But even when it is most immoral, it requires moral courage. For it is one of the most dangerous things on earth genuinely to surprise anybody. If you make any sentient creature jump, you render it by no means improbable that it will jump on you. But the leaders of this movement have no moral courage or immoral courage; their whole method consists in saying, with large and elaborate emphasis, the things which everybody else says casually, and without remembering what they have said. When they brace themselves up to attack anything, they never reach the point of attacking anything which is large and real, and would resound with the shock. They do not attack the army as men do in France, or the judges as men do in Ireland, or the democracy itself as men did in England a hundred years ago. They attack something like the War Office-something, that is, which everybody attacks and nobody bothers to defend, something which is an old joke in fourth-rate comic papers